Chapter XIX. {XLII}

“Tout est perdu fors l’honneur!” François I.

{“Tout est perdu fors l’honneur” = all is lost but honor (French). Francis I of France (1494-1547), letter to his mother, 1525; by 1840 a proverbial expression. The unusual French word forsis found mainly in this single famous quotation.}

HAZLEHURST’S friends, fully aware of the importance of the cause to his interests, had followed the trial with great anxiety. Mrs. Stanley, Mrs. Robert Hazlehurst, Miss Wyllys, and Mrs. Creighton were regularly informed of the events which had passed whenever the court adjourned. The young ladies at Wyllys-Roof, Elinor, Jane, and Mary Van Alstyne were obliged to wait longer for information; they had received, however, regular reports of the proceedings by every mail; they had learned that the trial had closed, and were now waiting most anxiously for the final decision of the jury.

“I had no idea the trial would last so long; had you?” observed Mary Van Alstyne, as the three friends were sitting together waiting for that day’s mail, which must at length bring them the important news.

“Yes; grandpapa told me that it might possibly last a week.”

“I don’t see why they cannot decide it sooner,” said Jane; “anybody might know that sailor could not be William Stanley. Poor Harry! what trouble he has had with the man ever since he came home!”

At that moment carriage-wheels were heard approaching; Elinor ran to the window.

“They are coming!” she cried; and in another instant she was on the piazza, followed by Mary and Jane.

Two carriages were approaching the door.

“Here they are — all our friends!” exclaimed Mary Van Alstyne, as she recognized in the first open wagon Mr. Wyllys and Ellsworth, and in the barouche behind, the ladies, including Mrs. Creighton; while Harry himself sat at the side of the coachman.

Elinor was on the last step of the piazza, looking eagerly towards the faces of her friends as they advanced.

“Grandpapa!” she exclaimed, looking all anxious curiosity, as the wagon stopped.

Mr. Wyllys smiled, but not triumphantly.

Ellsworth shook his head as he sprang from the wagon and took her hand.

“Can it be possible! — Is the suit lost?” she again exclaimed.

“Only too possible!” replied Mr. Ellsworth. “The jury have given a verdict for the plaintiff, in spite of our best endeavours.”

Elinor turned towards Harry, and offered him both her hands. Hazlehurst received them with feeling, with emotion.

“I can’t acknowledge that I am such a poor forlorn fellow as one might fancy,” he said, smiling, “while I have still such kind and warm friends.”

Elinor blushing to find herself between the two gentlemen, advanced to receive the kiss of her aunt and Mrs. Stanley. The countenance of the latter lady showed evident traces of the painful feelings she had experienced at the decision. Mrs. Creighton too looked a little disturbed; though graceful as ever in her manner, she was not easy; it was clear that she had been much disappointed by Harry’s defeat.

“I am grieved to hear the bad news, Mr. Hazlehurst!” said Mary Van Alstyne.

“Poor Harry — I am so sorry for you!” exclaimed Jane, looking very lovely as she raised her eyes to her kinsman’s face.

“Ellsworth, can’t you manage to lose all you are worth and a little more?” said Harry, smiling, after having thanked the ladies for their kind reception.

“As I could not keep your property for you with the best will in the world, no doubt I could get rid of my own too,” replied his friend.

When the whole party assembled in the drawing-room, nothing was talked of for a while but the trial. It appeared that the jury had been fifteen hours considering their verdict. The doors of the court-room had been crowded by people curious to learn the decision of the case, and when the jury entered the court with their verdict there was a rush forward to hear it.

“Verdict for the plaintiff — ” was announced by the clerk in a loud voice, in the usual official manner.

“Clapp was standing near me at the moment,” said Harry, “there was a flash of triumph in his face as he turned towards me. The sailor actually looked bewildered for an instant, but he soon appeared very well satisfied. As for myself, I honestly declare that I expected such would be the result.”

“It was too late to write to you, my child,” said Mr. Wyllys; “we only heard the verdict in time to prepare for leaving town in the morning’s boat. And now, Nelly, you must give us some consolation in the shape of a good dinner.”

It was very evident that although everybody endeavoured to wear a cheerful face, the defeat had been much felt by Mrs. Stanley, Mr. Wyllys, and Ellsworth. Hazlehurst himself really appeared better prepared for the misfortune than any of the party; in fact he conceived Mrs. Stanley’s position to be more painful than his own, though so much less critical in a pecuniary view. Mrs. Creighton was certainly neither so gay, nor so easy as usual in her manner; one might have fancied that she felt herself in an unpleasant and rather an awkward position — a very unusual thing for that lady. It might have struck an observer that she wished to appear as amiable as ever to Harry, but she did not succeed entirely in concealing that her interest in him was materially diminished, now that he was no longer Mr. Stanley’s heir. It was only by trifling shades of manner, however, that this was betrayed; perhaps no one of the circle at Wyllys-Roof remarked it; perhaps it was not lost upon Hazlehurst; there seemed to be an occasional expression in his eye which said so.

After the party had separated to prepare for dinner, Elinor joined her aunt, and learned many farther particulars of the trial.

“Is there no hope, Aunt? — can nothing be done — no new trial?”

“I am afraid not. The gentlemen are to hold several consultations on that point, however, but they seem to agree that little can be done. Both your grandfather and Harry were determined to go on if there were the least probability of success; but Mr. Grant, Mr. Ellsworth, and several other gentlemen say they can give them no grounds for encouragement; the trial was perfectly regular, and they think an appeal for a new trial would be rejected; and even if it were granted, they see no reason to hope for a different verdict.”

“And yet there cannot be a doubt, Aunt, to us at least, that this man is an impostor!” exclaimed Elinor.

“No, not to us certainly; but it was not possible to place the proofs of this as clearly before the court as they have appeared to us. Harry says he was afraid from the beginning that this would be the case.”

“How well he bears it!” exclaimed Elinor. “And Mrs. Stanley, she can scarcely speak on the subject!”

“She feels it most keenly. Would you believe it, my child, when we arrived on board the boat this morning, we found Mr. Clapp and this man already there; and at a moment when Mrs. Stanley and I were sitting alone together, the gentlemen having left us, and Mrs. Creighton being with another party, they came and walked up and down before us. Mr. Clapp took off his hat, and running his hand through his hair, as he does so often, he said in a loud voice: “Well, Mr. Stanley, when do you go to Greatwood?” Happily, Harry saw us from the other side of the deck, and he instantly joined us. Of course we did not mention to him what had passed; and although Mr. Clapp was noisy and vulgar, yet he did not come so near us again.”

“What a miserable man he is!” exclaimed Elinor. “And is it possible that sailor is going to take possession of my uncle Stanley’s house immediately?”

“I do not know, my child. Everything has been left in the hands of Robert Hazlehurst and Mr. Grant, by our friends.”

Already had Elinor’s mind been busy with planning relief for Hazlehurst; if he were now worse than penniless, she was rich — it would be in her power to assist him. The point itself had been long since settled by her, but the manner in which it was to be done was now to be considered. She was determined at least that her old playfellow should have the use of any sum he might require, under the circumstances that would be the easiest and most acceptable to himself. Her grandfather must make the offer; they would either wait until he returned from the cruise in the Petrel, or possibly it would be better to write to him while absent.

Elinor had, perhaps, been more disappointed by the verdict than any one, for she had been very sanguine as to the result; she had not conceived it possible that such gross injustice could triumph.

But, alas, how imperfect is merely human justice in its best form! It is a humiliating reflection for the human race, that Justice, one of the highest attributes of Truth, should have so little power among men; that when guided by human reason alone she should so often err!

To guard faithfully the general purity of Justice, to watch that her arm is neither crippled by violence nor palsied by fear, that her hands are not polluted by bribery, nor her ears assailed by flattery, is all that human means can do; but wo {sic} to the society where this duty is neglected, for disgrace and general corruption are then inevitable.

It was a day of movement at Wyllys-Roof; after the arrival of the party from Philadelphia there were constant communications with their neighbours at Broadlawn, as the long talked of cruise of the Petrel had been only postponed for Harry’s return, and young de Vaux was now all impatience to be off. When Elinor went down for dinner she found Ellsworth and Harry on the piazza playing with Bruno, the fine Newfoundland dog which Hazlehurst had given her when he first went abroad.

“He is a noble creature!” exclaimed Ellsworth.

“I am making friends with Bruno again, you see,” said Harry as Elinor drew near. “What would you say if I coaxed him off to the Petrel with me to-morrow?”

“You are very welcome to his company for the voyage, if you can persuade him to go. Down Bruno, down my good friend,” she said, as the dog bounded towards her; “I wish you would remember that a thin white dress must be treated with some respect. Are you really going to-morrow?” she added, turning to Harry.

“Yes; we are under sailing orders. I have just been over to look at the Petrel, and everything is ready. De Vaux has only been waiting for me- -the rest of the party has been collected for some days. I found Smith the conchologist, and Stryker, at Broadlawn.”

“Has your course been finally settled?” asked Ellsworth.

“Yes; we are to circumnavigate Long-Island.”

“You will have an agreeable cruise, I dare say, with a pleasant set of messmates; Hubert de Vaux is a good fellow himself, and Stryker is in his element on such occasions.”

“We are to have Charlie Hubbard too, and Harman Van Horne.”

“How long will you be gone?” said Elinor.

“Some ten days, or a fortnight at the very farthest.”

“Can we see anything of Mr. de Vaux’s boat from here?” asked Mrs. Creighton, stepping on the piazza.

“Only her masts; in this direction, near the grove,” replied Harry. “She is a schooner, and a beautiful craft, too.”

“Miss Wyllys, you should coax Mr. de Vaux to give the ladies a pic-nic when he returns,” said Mrs. Creighton.

“No doubt he would be happy to do so, if you were to express the wish,” said Elinor.

“Unfortunately I shall not be here. Wyllys-Roof is a dangerous place, one always stays here too long; but I cannot positively afford more than a day or two at present; I have promised to be in town on Thursday.”

Elinor expressed her regrets very hospitably; and they were soon after summoned to dinner.

In the evening, Hubert de Vaux and the gentlemen from Broadlawn, engaged for the cruise, walked in. Charlie Hubbard was there too; he had remained in Philadelphia during the whole trial, and had just returned home that morning.

“And so you are positively going to-morrow,” said Mr. Wyllys to young de Vaux.

“Positively; at six in the morning.”

“Is it part of your plan, to stow yourselves away at night in the Petrel?”

“The Petrel’s cabin is not to be despised, I assure you, sir. It has six as good berths as those of any North-River sloop that ever carried passengers in days of yore. But we shall only sleep on board occasionally, for the fun of the thing.”

{“North-River sloop” = the Hudson River was also called the North River, and before steamboats, passengers travelled between New York and Albany by what were known as Hudson River or North River sloops}

“At what places do you intend to put into port?”

“We are going to shoot for a day or two on Long-Island; and we shall let the Yankees have a sight of the Petrel, at New Haven, Sachem’s- Head, and Nantucket.”

{“Sachem’s Head” = Sachem Head harbor is about 10 miles east of New Haven, Connecticut}

“I have no doubt you will have a pleasant excursion.”

“Our only difficulty at present seems the prospect of too much comfort,” said Charlie. “Mrs. de Vaux expressed some fears of a famine at Longbridge in consequence of this cruise, we carry off such a stock of provisions.”

“Not a bit too much; people always want twice as much on a party of pleasure as at other times,” said Hubert de Vaux.

The plan of the cruise was talked over in all its details, and the whole party seemed pleased with the idea. Young Van Horne, now a practising physician in New York, was delighted with the prospect of a week’s liberty; Mr. Smith, the conchologist, hoped to pick up some precious univalve or bivalve; Charlie talked of taking a sketch of Cape Cod; Harry declared he was determined to enjoy the trip, as the last holiday he could allow himself for a long time; and Mr. Stryker promised himself the best of chowders, a sea-dish in which he professed himself to be a great connoisseur. Mrs. Creighton indeed declared, that he looked upon that season as lost, in which he could not make some improvement in his celebrated receipt for chowder. Whether it was that this lady’s gaiety and coquetry instinctively revived in the company of so many gentlemen, or whether she felt afraid of Mr. Stryker’s keen, worldly scrutiny, her manner in the evening resumed entirely its wonted appearance; she was witty, graceful, piquant, and flattering as ever, and quite as much so with Hazlehurst as with any.

“What do you say to a game of chess, Mrs. Creighton?” asked Mr. Wyllys.

“With pleasure, sir; I am always at your service. Not that it is very pleasant to be beaten so often, but I really think I improve under your instructions. You are so much interested yourself that you inspire others.”

“You must allow me, Mrs. Creighton, to suggest something for your improvement,” said Mr. Stryker.

“And what is it, pray?”

“You talk too much; you make yourself too agreeable to your adversary — that is not fair.”

“Oh, it is only a ruse de guerre; and Mr. Wyllys beats me nine games out of ten, in spite of my chattering.”

{“ruse de guerre” = military strategem (French)}

“No doubt; but if you could make up your mind to be less charming for half an hour, you might have the honours of the game oftener.”

“I must gain the battle my own way, Mr. Stryker, or not at all.”

“I leave you to your fate, then,” said the gentleman, turning away.

Charlie, Elinor, Harry, and Jane were quietly talking together; Jane having now resumed her place in the family circle. They were speaking of Charlie’s sketches, and the young widow asked if he ever painted portraits now; Miss Wyllys { sic} wished to have her’s taken, before she left them to return to her parents.

{“Miss Wyllys” = should read Jane (or Mrs. Taylor); Elinor Wyllys is an orphan}

“You do paint portraits,” said Elinor; “I have seen those of your mother and Miss Patsey.”

Charlie changed colour, and hastily denied any claim to be called a portrait-painter.

“Yet it would be pleasant,” said Elinor, “to have a picture of my cousin painted by you.”

Jane observed she should like to have Elinor’s, by the same hand.

“Oh, my portrait would not be worth having,” said Elinor, smiling; “certainly not if taken by an honest artist.”

“You will both, I hope, fare better from the hands of Mr. I — — — — — — or Mr. S — — — — — — ,” said Charlie, with some little embarrassment.

Mr. Ellsworth, who had been standing near the group, now asked Elinor to sing.

“What will you have?” she replied, taking a seat at the piano.

“Anything you please.”

“Pray then give us Robin Adair, Miss Elinor,” said Charlie.

Elinor sang the well-known song with greater sweetness than usual — she was decidedly in good voice; both Charlie and Harry listened with great pleasure as they stood by her side; Jane was also sitting near the piano, and seemed more interested in the music than usual; it was a song which the young widow had so often heard, in what she now looked back to as the happy days of her girlhood. More than one individual in the room thought it charming to listen to Elinor and look at Jane, at the same instant. Several of the gentlemen then sang, and the party broke up cheerfully.

Little was it thought, that never again could the same circle be re- united at Wyllys-Roof; all who crossed the threshold that night were not to return.